SINGAPORE - Like most runners, there is nothing Mary Tan enjoys more than putting on her running shoes and pounding the concrete pavements around her Tiong Bahru home.
Unlike most runners, however, the 47-year-old financial representative has had to fight cancer twice in the past three years.
Now fighting fit and armed with a renewed zest for life, Tan will be taking part in the Great Eastern Women's Run on Nov 9, after signing up for the event's #RunToLiveGreat programme with good friend Kusha Dogra.
She said: "Finding out I had cancer the second time was a really big blow. I exercised more, ran my first full marathon, and watched my diet closely after recovering the first time.
"I was angry, and thought, 'How could this happen again?'
"Maybe these setbacks were for me to help more cancer patients, to show them that it is possible to bounce back."
Tan, who has taken part in over 20 running events to date, was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011, and needed three months of radiation therapy to recover.
Last year, she was struck with ovarian cancer, and had to undergo six painful sessions of chemotherapy.
Yet her recovery inspired Kusha, a self-professed couch potato, to sign up for the 15-week #RunToLiveGreat programme, which challenges 50 pairs of women to commit themselves to at least two training activities leading up to the Nov 9 Women's Run.
At least one participant from each pair must not have taken part in any previous Women's Runs.
To help them along, the 50 pairs are given - among other freebies - a pair of New Balance shoes and a Polar Loop activity tracker wristband.
Tan will run in the 21.1km category, while Kusha will take part in the 10km run.
Joining the duo is the programme's oldest pair, Catherine Chua 66, and Helen Yek, 59. They are taking part in the 5km category and have already started running together for 4km once every week.
Said Chua, a retiree: "I swim and do taiji every week. Keeping fit is one's individual responsibility, and I hope to show people that age is no excuse."
Colin Chan, Great Eastern Life chief marketing officer, said he hoped the selected 50 pairs of women would in turn inspire others to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Said Chan: "We chose the ones with the most inspirational stories, and we hope to show people that it is important to take that step to live better, not just for themselves, but for their families and friends."
Registration for the run closes on Sept 30.
To register, visit www.greateasternwomensrun.com.
This article was first published on July 27, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.